Winebits 166: State budgets, global warming, screwcaps

? Sunday booze as budget panacea: Since 2002, 14 states and numerous municipalities have repealed their blue laws banning Sunday alcohol sales in efforts to spur revenue growth for their governments. Now, 36 states allow such sales, and a host more want to end Sunday bans in an attempt to raise cash without raising taxes. The biggest hurdle the states have to clear? From liquor store owners, who like their legally mandated day off. The irony to all this is that adding an extra day of liquor sales doesn’t usually increase tax revenue in the long term. There’s a short term bump, but most people drink the same amount of wine, beer and liquor regardless of when it’s sold, so the only thing that changes are buying habits. If I drink a bottle of wine a week, I’ll buy it on Sunday instead of Saturday.

? Wine and global warming: Spain’s Pancho Campo, the country’s pre-eminent wine expert, says people who still doubting the existence of climate change are outdated, and points to changes to grape growing as one reason why. Campo says climate change could result in a change in grape quality, and that average temperatures in some wine growing regions have increased so much that grapes grown in particularly hot countries are too alcoholic, ripen oddly, and produce wines that lack aromatic complexity. During my trip to Spain last month, global warming was discussed several times, and winemakers and vineyard managers say they’ve seen significant changes to their grapes over the past 20 years.

? Jancis Robinson on screwcap quality: “While traditionalists may still be reluctant to embrace them, there is now plenty of scientific evidence that indicates money spent on wine sealed with anything but a screwcap is a game of risk” — or so says one of the most influential wine critics in the world. Which, frankly, I’m going to believe more than another news release or video from the cork producers. This article, from Robinson’s Web site, is as good an overview of the history of screwcaps that I’ve seen.